Did You Know?  (19)

Sarikamish Battle, 1915

By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 25July 2022

The defeat at Sarikamish became the pretext to blame Armenian soldiers of treachery. On Feb. 12, 1915 Enver Pasha signed the order to dismiss Armenian soldiers and to make them join the labor and cargo battalions. This was followed by the disarmament of the Armenian officers who were later killed by Turkish officers.

An Armenian soldier saved Ottoman Minister of Defense Enver Pasha from being taken prisoner at the Battle of Sarikamish. Enver sent a letter of gratitude to Zaven Ter-Yeghiayan, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.

Bill Targ was a celebrated American publisher from the ‘30s to the ‘60s. In his biography (“Indecent Pleasures”) he talked frequently about William Saroyan. This is one of the Saroyan mentions: “To writers, he [Saroyan] says: “Don’t expect to write with intelligence, just write.” He writes from the heart, the head, and elsewhere. Most of it work beautifully…He is one of the few men on earth I would care to be shipwrecked with, because I think he’d get a big laugh out of it and make do, somehow. He’s a life-lover…He and Vonnegut and Brautigan and a few other guys are among our national treasures. Make note please. Every would-be writer of short stories should study Saroyan, particularly the tales in ‘Daring Young Men.”

Armenian Proverbs

  • Always tell the truth in the form of a joke.
  • Pass the horse by the head and the dog by the tail.
  • An experienced devil is better than an inexperienced angel.
  • A man and wife had a fight: they throw their cat into the fire.
  • Spit against the wind and you spit in your own face.

Nina Berberova-Berberian (1901-1993) was a leading literary light among White Russians who fled from the Russian Revolution. She chronicled in her short stories and novels the lives of fellow exiles in Paris. She taught Russian at Yale and Princeton. One of her best-known books is her autobiography—“The Italics are Mine”. In it she mentions Hamazsp Babadzhanian, Arakel Babakhanyan, Gevorg Bashinjaghian, Vartan Sarkisov, Hagop Manandyan, Mikael Varandyan, Christopher Araratov, and Hovhannes Abelian.

Prior to 1915, naturalist J.J. Manissadjian of the Anatolian College collected the flora and fauna of Central Anatolia. He survived the Armenian Genocide by hiding at a German agricultural colony near Amasya. He eventually fled to Detroit. He introduced Amasya tulips to the world through the Dutch Van Tubergen tulips company.

The Nghretsis clan claimed descent from the Hetoumian dynasty of Cilicia. Although the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia had vanished more than fifty years earlier, they anointed kings in Gorigos, Cilicia until 1424. The mini-kingdom lasted until 1448 when the Karaman emirs defeated them.

Two Armenians, Johannes Diodato and Isaak de Luca were the first to sell coffee from permanent premises in Vienna. On January 17, 1685, Diodato obtained the first permit to open a coffeehouse. He finally secured a royal monopoly from Leopold I on the sale of coffee in the city for twenty years. Unfortunately for Diodato, his extensive commercial relations with the Turks brought him under suspicion, and he was forced to flee to Venice in 1693, turning over his operation of his coffeehouse to his wife. In 1697, de Luca secured the right to do business in Vienna. Later in the year and together with two other Armenians (Andreas Painand Philip Rudolf Kemberg) de Luca became Vienna’s leading coffee merchant.

In 1672, an Armenian named Pascal was the first to sell coffee in Paris. His maison de caova was desigbed as a replica of Constantinople coffeehouse. Carrying trays of le petit noi, as it was called, black slave boys darted among members of the public with its mystery and with the novel sweet, roasted scent of fresh coffee. He later moved to London where another Armenian (also named Pascal) had opened the first coffeehouse twenty years earlier.

The official signature of Ataturk was desiged by Hagop Cerciyan in 1934. Cerciyan was a teacher at the Robert College and had studied the Palmer handwriting system in the U.S.

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